Expert Guide To Remodeling Historic Homes in Los Angeles

In the heart of Southern California, where history and modernity coexist, remodeling a historic home presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. From preserving architectural heritage to complying with local LA regulations, there’s a lot to consider when tackling this type of project. 

A home remodel can be stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience. Give us a call at 818.317.3567 or visit our website at to learn more and discuss your project.

light brown historic home

Unlocking the Potential of Historic Homes in LA

Nestled amidst the palm-lined streets and storied neighborhoods of Los Angeles, historic homes are timeless reminders of the city’s rich past. Owning one of these architectural treasures is an opportunity to be part of the living history of Southern California. However, with this privilege comes the responsibility of preserving the unique character and heritage of these homes. While at the same time making them comfortable and functional for living in.

In this blog, we’ll explore essential insights and expert tips for embarking on a successful historic home remodeling project in Los Angeles and why it is so important to do so with care.

Embrace the Heritage

Before you do anything, you need to spend some time learning about the historical architecture of your home, whether it’s a splendid example of Spanish Colonial Revival, a testament to Craftsman craftsmanship, or a reflection of the streamlined beauty of Mid-Century Modern design. 

Immersing yourself in the era that your home hails from and delving into the tales of previous inhabitants is a great way to understand the bones of your house and its past. This profound understanding will guide your remodeling choices and play a major role in helping you to protect the home’s unique character.

Partner with a Preservation Expert

As Los Angeles has such a diverse architectural landscape, it’s a great idea to collaborate with professionals who have an intimate understanding of the city’s architectural richness. Look for architects or contractors with a proven track record in navigating the regulations and requirements for various architectural styles

These experts should be able to balance the need to preserve historical elements with the desire for modern adaptations and creature comforts that suit the era we live in now. 

historic home in los angeles

Compliance is Key

Navigating the maze of regulations related to historical home remodeling in Los Angeles is challenging, as there are different rules for different styles and locations. 

To ensure you stay on the right side of compliance, you must have a clear grasp of local preservation ordinances, the permits needed, and the zoning regulations and building codes. If you fail to comply with the necessary regulations, you may face costly delays, legal battles, or even having to rebuild or restore parts of your home you have remodeled.

Prioritize Structural Integrity

It’s important to recognize that time and wear may have affected your home’s structural integrity, even if it’s been well maintained over the years. 

Whether you own a Victorian gem in Angelino Heights or a Streamline Moderne icon in Silver Lake, addressing structural issues upfront is essential. Focus on foundational repairs, reinforcing load-bearing components, and ensuring compliance with earthquake-resistant building standards that are particularly relevant in seismic regions like Los Angeles.

Preserve Architectural Details

Focus your efforts on preserving the distinctive architectural elements that define your home’s character and charm. Whether it’s the intricate molding, detailed trim, original doors, or unique windows that make your home special, these features need looking after. 

Meticulous restoration or replication of these elements will breathe new life into your home while preserving its historical authenticity.

Enhance Energy Efficiency

Even if your home is from the 1800s, it’s an excellent idea to blend modern energy efficiency and architectural aesthetics. Consider investments in advanced insulation, energy-efficient window replacements, and cutting-edge HVAC systems that meet contemporary standards. 

Integrating concealed modern technology can enhance comfort without compromising your home’s visual appeal.

Salvage and Repurpose

There are often plenty of opportunities to salvage materials from your home’s original structure or repurpose older materials from a builder’s yard. Incorporating reclaimed hardwood flooring, vintage fixtures, or antique hardware into your remodel gives your home a unique character and promotes sustainability. 

hardwood flooring for a historic home

Budget Realistically

Historic renovations often reveal surprising challenges along the way, and you need to embrace this. To make sure your remodel stays on track, budget for the unexpected. You never know what’s waiting for you under a floor or whether a wall needs to be completely rebuilt, so it’s a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside.

Lighting Design and Fixtures

Thoughtfully plan your lighting design and fixtures to complement your home’s architectural style. There are plenty of modern fittings that will complement the old-world design of your home. You can opt for chandeliers with a more contemporary twist or wall sconces that provide ample illumination and are still sensitive to your overall design.

Sustainable Materials and Practices

In the spirit of preserving history and the environment, explore sustainable building materials and practices. Utilize eco-friendly materials like reclaimed wood, recycled glass, or low VOC paints that align with Los Angeles’ eco-conscious values. Additionally, consider implementing energy-efficient windows, solar panels, or rainwater harvesting systems to reduce your home’s carbon footprint while modernizing its amenities.

Landscape Restoration

It’s a great idea to extend your preservation efforts to your outdoor space. Most historic homes had specific style gardens, and you can bring them back to life with a modern twist. Incorporate period-appropriate plantings, recreate historically accurate hardscaping elements like pathways and garden walls using modern materials, and consider outdoor fixtures that complement your property’s historical accuracy. 

man landscaping at his historic home

The Importance of Remodeling Historic Homes

There are plenty of reasons why remodeling historic homes is crucial. Here are just a few:

Preserving Cultural Identity: The preservation of historic homes in Los Angeles is vital to maintaining the city’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage, ensuring that its unique identity endures.

Sustaining Neighborhood Character: Renovating historic homes plays a pivotal role in sustaining the distinct character and charm of neighborhoods. In areas like Santa Barbara, numerous design guidelines ensure that homeowners maintain the local character when remodeling. 

Environmental Responsibility: Renovating historic homes aligns with modern environmental concerns. It promotes sustainability by reusing existing materials and enhancing energy efficiency, reducing the environmental footprint.

Educational and Tourist Attractions: These homes become valuable educational resources and tourist attractions, offering insights into Los Angeles’ architectural and cultural history for both locals and visitors.

Sense of Place: These homes provide a unique sense of place, anchoring neighborhoods in their historical context, and nurturing a deep connection between residents and their surroundings.

Architectural Variety: Renovating historic homes celebrates Los Angeles’ architectural diversity, showcasing various styles from Spanish Revival to Art déco and contributing to the city’s reputation for design and innovation.

Legal Safeguards: It ensures compliance with legal protections for historic properties established by the city, demonstrating Los Angeles’ commitment to preserving its cultural heritage and architectural legacy.

white historic home

Making History with Your Remodel

Navigating the intricate process of remodeling a historic home in Los Angeles requires a delicate balance between preservation and modernization. 

By following these expert tips and prioritizing historical integrity, you can embark on a journey that not only respects the past but also creates a home that stands as a testament to both history and contemporary living.

At GreatBuildz, we understand the challenges of remodeling historic homes in LA. Our personalized service matches you with pre-screened professionals specializing in historic renovations, ensuring your project is in the hands of experienced experts. Let us support you in turning your historic dream home into a modern-day masterpiece while preserving its unique character.


Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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